Guest Author - Barbara Sharpe
Last Friday was National Day of Silence, which is all about protecting children from being bullied. That’s a cause everyone could rally around, right? You’d think so. However, the ironically named American Family Association and Campaign for Children and Families, along with Concerned Women for America, Liberty Council and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, asked parents to protest National Day of Silence by keeping their children home.
To be perfectly honest, my initial response was “Great! There will be fewer people who are likely to harass the DOS participants if the homophobes stay home.” Then, my rational self showed back up.
In an interview with the Christian Post, Linda Harvey of the Mission America Coalition says, “This day is not about ‘tolerance’ as it claims, but about forcing propaganda and acceptance of high-risk behavior into the schools with no opposing views allowed.”
I am not quite sure to what “high-risk behavior” Harvey is referring. I am presuming that she makes the same error that many who are uninformed make, which is equating sexual orientation with sexual behavior.
There are several problems with Harvey’s statement. If the risk she is referring to is the risk of contracting HIV, then she should be aware that lesbians have the lowest risk of all groups of contracting HIV, if they are having sex only with women and not using injecting drugs. Also, not all high school students are sexually active. Finally, the bigger issue, as pointed out by Lisa Neff at 365Gay.com, the high-risk behavior that DOS deals with is the bullying that LGBT youth (and those who simply are perceived to be LGBT) that too many people ignore.
For those of us who do not share the conservatives views, there is some hope that things are improving on a governmental level. For the first time ever, the Secretary of Education acknowledged National Day of Silence. Secretary Arne Duncan issued the following statement on student safety:
“Yesterday, many Americans paused to remember the senseless death of 32 students at Virginia Tech in 2007. Today, many Americans will honor the Day of Silence called for on behalf of victims of harassment and bullying around issues of sexual orientation, including a recent suicide who would have turned 12 today. On Monday, we will memorialize the Columbine High School victims from a decade ago. Through these painful remembrances, we must all acknowledge our collective role and responsibility in preventing student deaths and ensuring that our schools and universities remain safe havens of learning.”
As a country, we should be ashamed of any group, but especially one who professes to be Christian, who opposes a movement whose sole goal is to stop bullying. If a student were being bullied for his extreme Christian beliefs, you can bet that I would be strongly supportive of efforts to end that bullying, even though I do not share those beliefs and, frankly, think that many versions of Christianity are more harmful than helpful. Sadly, the so-called Christians are more concerned with promoting their own agenda than in protecting children.